Friday, May 10, 2013

Cult of the White Ape - Weird Tales Feb 1933

I'm a huge fan of classic old pulp stories. My favorites are horror and science fiction. There was a lot of not so great stuff that one finds, but then there is the really good stuff that makes up for it. Today I thought I would put a small spotlight on a yarn from Weird Tales. "Cult of the White Ape" (love that title!) was first published way back in February of 1933. The cover illustration here was done by J. Allen St. John and depicts a scene from the serialized novel "Buccaneers of Venus" by Otis Adelbert Kline.

Feb 1933 - Cover by J. Allen St. John
"Cult of the White Ape" by Hugh B. Cave is a jungle horror story, full of ancient curses, African lore, cannibals, shape-shifters and one nasty bastard of a villain who meets his fate one moonlit night at the Tower of the Bakenzenzi. Our villain, Matthew Betts, arrives in Africa on behalf of a rubber company. He meets with the story's narrator, Lyle Varicks, the chef de poste of the small village in the Congo. Betts immediately makes a horrible first impression by brutally kicking the local "witch doctor" of the village. He also beats his servants mercilessly, and acts like a general dickhead to everyone and everything. Lyle repeatedly warns Betts of his evil ways, but Betts, being the typical outsider coming to rape the scenery for his own personal gain, pays no attention. Soon Betts is haunted by invisible spirits, and claims to see white shadows lurking in the bush. It isn't long before his anger and ferocious nature brings him, his wife and Varicks face to face with The Cult of White Ape!

Other stories in this issue are, "The Cats of Ulthar" by H. P. Lovecraft, "Mandrake" by Clarke Ashton Smith,  "The Fire Vampires" by Donald Wandrei, "The Vanishing of Simmons" by August Derleth, "The Cripple" by Maurice Level, "The Head of Wu-fang" by Don C. Wiley, "The Chadbourne Episode" by Henry S. Whitehead, and part 4 of "Buccaneers of Venus".

Unfortunately, I don't own the issue, but I've read some of the stories in various anthologies over the years. I have a couple collections by Cave, Smith, Wandrei and Lovecraft, which is how I'm familiar with Cave's story. Sounds like a good time for the reader of 1933.

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